Continued dredging to take place at Grand Traverse Harbor in Keweenaw County

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Credit: Michigan Department of Natural Resources

KEWEENAW COUNTY, Mich. (WJMN) — Work is expected to start this week on a project that will dredge stamp sands. It’s happening in and around the Grand Traverse Harbor in Keweenaw County.

Through the years, winds and waves have carried the stamp sands south to an area in Gay. According to a press release from the Michigan Department of Transportation, the stamp sands come from copper mine tailings from the Wolverine and Mohawk mines.

Workers cleared the harbor of the dark-colored stamp sands during the summer. However, high water levels on Lake Superior and fall storms have again choked the waterway.

“Sands will be removed from the harbor and also from the beach, up to 1,000 feet north of the breakwater, to help keep the harbor open,” said Jay Parent, district supervisor of the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy’s Water Resources Division in Marquette. “We want camp and homeowners along the beach to know we will be doing this work over the winter months so as not to interfere with summer camp use.”

“Anything we do now to remove stamp sands from the beach and harbor will help reduce the threat to Buffalo Reef overall,” said John Pepin, Michigan Department of Natural Resources deputy public information officer. “Meanwhile, the Buffalo Reef Task Force is evaluating options to reduce the amount of short-term dredging required, while refining estimates of how much dredging will be needed moving forward.”

In addition to the dredging that took place over recent months, crews have worked to move the stamp sand pile at the original deposit site back from the shoreline at Gay.

“These efforts were undertaken to help cut-off the supply of stamp sands feeding down the lakeshore toward the harbor,” Parent said. “Meanwhile, the multi-agency task force is continuing to develop options for a long-term solution to the problem, hoping to save the important fish habitat associated with the reef.”

For more information on Buffalo Reef, visit Michigan.gov/BuffaloReef.

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